KUALA LUMPUR: Perikatan Nasional (PN) has not held any official discussion with Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) on working together during the 15th General Election (GE15), said PN secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin on Tuesday (Oct 25).
“Officially, none so far but there may be informal discussions between representatives. The party leadership has yet to decide whether discussions can be held officially,” Mr Hamzah was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Earlier, GTA deputy chairman Mukhriz Mahathir was reported as saying that the coalition had held discussions with PN on the possibility of working together in GE15.
"Yes, GTA and PN have entered talks to explore the possibilities of an electoral pact but we have yet to reach an official negotiation stage,” he was quoted as saying by New Straits Times on Saturday.
It is still at the initial stage of discussion but the initial response from PN seemed positive, he added.
“We foresee the cooperation in the form of a coalition (between GTA and PN) but it might be a bit difficult (in terms of timing), perhaps forming an electoral pact is workable," he reportedly said.
Mr Mukhriz said that there was still a window for both sides to find a common ground to form a collaboration before the nomination date on Nov 5.
"I believe all of us are all willing to put aside our differences to defeat UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) and Barisan Nasional (BN) in GE15,” he said.
"When we look at the risk of bigger damage to the country should UMNO and BN return to power, we view our differences as just petty matters.”
In an apparent reference to BN, Mr Hamzah said on Wednesday that the vetting process for PN candidates will be thorough to ensure that only those with unquestionable integrity will be fielded in GE15.
He added that those facing legal action in court will not be considered as candidates for his party.
"We will not only check whether candidates are involved in court cases or criminal activities, but we will also check their background with the Inland Revenue Board and other such agencies to ensure that our candidates are truly ‘clean’,” he was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
"It starts with being a candidate up until they are chosen by the people. But the candidate must be someone ‘clean’ and responsible for the people, and not for individuals and certain groups,” he added.
Mr Mukhriz and Mr Hamzah both served under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition that had ousted BN from power as the ruling government in the 2018 polls.
In February 2020, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin pulled the party out of PH and worked with UMNO to topple the PH administration in a political manoeuvre known as the “Sheraton Move”.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is leading GTA for GE15, resigned as prime minister and was later replaced by Mr Muhyiddin.
In March the same year, Mr Hamzah was appointed as Bersatu secretary-general by Mr Muhyiddin.
Meanwhile, Mr Mukhriz was sacked a few months later in May by Bersatu for sitting with the opposition bloc during a parliament session.
GTA is expected to contest at least 120 seats and will be targeting youth votes for GE15.
“They (the GTA election machinery) will try to convince them (the youth) that Pejuang (Parti Pejuang Tanah Air) … will fight for the original struggle of Bersatu,” said Dr Mahathir last Tuesday, as quoted by Bernama.
On Oct 10, 2022, caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the dissolution of parliament although an election was not due until September 2023.
UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering, has been very vocal in pushing for snap polls, ostensibly to seek a fresh mandate from the people.
UMNO’s call for an early GE15 has faced much criticism, with PN ministers writing to the king before the Lower House was dissolved to voice their objections over holding polls during the monsoon season.
Last Thursday, the Election Commission (EC) announced that Malaysia would hold GE15 on Nov 19. Nomination Day will be on Nov 5, while early voting is set to be held on Nov 15.
More than 21 million people will be eligible to cast their votes during the elections which are estimated to cost RM1.01 billion (US$213 million).